Flashback: Remember when Target caused a stir by aiming at moms-to-be?

The Feds’ phone & internet surveillance programs that were revealed last week have raised the public’s consciousness re: Big Data.

Remember when Target created some Big Data buzz for analyzing purchase patterns to ID moms-to-be?


In a previous post, we excepted from a NY Times article How Companies Learn Your Secrets that

  1. Much of what people do is based on habits, not conscious reasoning.
  2. Consumers’ shopping habits and brand loyalties are often more habitual than thoughtful.
  3. But, there are certain “events” — e.g. new baby, new home, recent divorce — that seem to make consumers more open to switching stores and brands.
  4. Savvy marketers are learning to identify these critical events — before they happen — and try to get consumers to switch  their behavior.

Target is one of the retailers identifying customers who are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers” … and pouncing on them.

Who?  Moms-to-be.

How are they doing it?


According to the NY Times article, Target identified about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed them to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score.

For example, sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women tend to load up on body lotions and supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc.

With that information in their computer systems, Target can identify likely pregnant women and, more important,  estimate their due dates, so that  Target can send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.

It’s a bit unbelievable … and a lot creepy.

And, oh yeah, it works.

But, gotta wonder why Target let this cat out of the bag …   the privacy concerns are likely to offset the added sales to moms-to-be.

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Click to view the conference presentation on Target’s program.


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